When living in a historic town like Florence where cobbled streets are ripe and stilettoes don't really mix, what’s a girl to do? Meet Nicole and Sam behind VIAJIYU whose stylish "flats" for the fashionable woman, and now men, offer an alternative to comfortable yet stylish footwear for any city not just the Renaissance capital. In their boutique store just off fashionable via de' Tornabuoni, VIAJIYU is a colourful fashion haven for the most discerning shoe shopper. Here you can peruse the various styles and choose the leather before deciding on the trim of your bespoke pair of made in Italy items. VIAJIYU offers private shoe fittings in store should you wish to create your own pair when next in the city. So what makes an America and Australian decide to open a shoe store in Italy? And what do they love so much about Florence? Find out how this couple spend their spare time when not creating Cinderella moments for shoe lovers.

1. Galleries I Love  

Galleria dell'Accademia is a classic space to visit when you come to Florence. We think it would be criminal to come and not see David at least once. The space he is showcased is impressive and he is much larger than you would think. For 500 years old he looks in pretty good condition! There is also the lesser visited music gallery within the museum which has instruments from hundreds of years ago and worth checking out after seeing Michelangelo's masterpiece. 

2. For A Perfect Dinner 

We love going to Mangiafoco on Borgo Santi Apostoli especially for the bruschetta. They make great farm-to-table Italian cuisine and the place has a very authentic vibe. Plus it's our local and just up the street from our store. We’d also recommend Quattro Leone in piazza della Passera for the meat dishes including the famed Florentine steak.

3. For A Sweet Treat 

Bar Pasticceria Piccioli has great pastries and always seems to be bustling with locals, the atmosphere is super cosy. The caffé at Palazzo Strozzi also a favourite with great pastries and a lovely view onto the palazzo courtyard (caveat: as long as you’re not there in the middle of the day when it’s filled with tour groups visiting the museum).

4. My Florence Style 

We see that people’s dress in Florence is a lot more considered, men in particular. Florentine's seem better dressed than in many other places we've been to around Europe, and the world; they seem to nail layering. People take more pride in the way they dress and it’s more important to wear good quality pieces. Italian fashion seems quite minimalistic in terms of the colour palette and cuts, but the pieces are all tailored really masterfully, kind of classic with a modern design twist. As for us, we believe in good quality pieces, which is part of the VIAJIYU philosophy.  

5. Favourite Shopping Stores & Streets 

We love our street, Borgo Santi Apostoli, but know we are biased. It has a great mix of fashion, food, and bric-a-brac stores plus the best-hidden gallery in Florence called Aria. Angela Caputi does incredible contemporary jewellery made with Italian resin, all pieces are hand made in her Florence studio. Then there is the most Instagrammed, arguably, store in town, La Bottega del Chianti, with its baskets of fruit, wooden chopping boards and bunches of garlic hanging outside the shop front offering a feel into old-world Florence of the past. 

6. For Sunset Cocktails 

The rooftop bar at the Hotel Continentale is stunning with views down the river Arno. It’s an intimate bar that’s has a lounge-y vibe but also feels luxurious. The design makes it particularly special; the bar is carved out of the medieval stone wall! Plus you can gaze down to the Ponte Vecchio as night falls and the gold stores close watching the pedestrians go by at sunset. 

7. For Art & Culture {beyond the obvious galleries}

We don't have a lot of free time from the store unfortunately however we do like the contemporary gallery, Aria. Tucked away in a private garden off Borgo Santi Apostoli it hosts an array of exhibitions showcasing new talent in mixed media, sculpture and photography. 

8. Favourite Green Space In Florence 

Forte di Belvedere when it's open to the public for the summer. Apart from incredible views, each year the Forte hosts a contemporary sculpture exhibition to enjoy and in recent years for free. It's open until 8pm in the summer so a visit later in the day to see the city from up high is an insider city tip worth sharing. 

9. Escape To The Countryside {best day trip from Florence}

We love the Argentario coastline in the south-west of Tuscany, about two hours drive from Florence, with its beautiful fields, crystal blue beaches and amazing seafood. Just heading that little further south in the province of Tuscany offers lesser travelled towns plus some of the best beaches in the region. It's worth travelling the extra miles, literally. 

Photo credit: Olga Makarova